7. HomeTrust Bancshares

HomeTrust Bancshares ( HTBI) of Ashville N.C., saw its stock return 13.51% in January, closing Thursday at $14.45. The shares were up 28% since the company's conversion from mutual to stock ownership on July 11.

The shares trade for 0.8 times tangible book value. KBW analyst Brady Gailey is the only analyst covering the company, according to Thomson Reuters. The shares trade for 25.8 times Gailey's 2014 EPS estimate of 56 cents. Gailey's 2013 EPS estimate is also 56 cents.

HomeTrust's ROA for the first half of its fiscal 2013 ended Dec. 31 was 0.42%. The company had $1.6 billion in total assets as of Dec. 31.

For the fiscal second quarter ended Dec. 31, the company earned $2.3 million, or 11 cents a share. Earnings increased from $843,000 a year earlier, mainly because of a decline in the provision for loan losses. Net interest income for the fiscal second quarter was $13.6 million, declining from $14.2 million a year earlier, because of a 7% decline in in average loans.

HomeTrust reported that nonperforming assets made up 5.36% of total assets as of Dec. 31, increasing from 4.67% the previous quarter and 5.67% a year earlier. While the nonperforming assets ratio is rather high, the company's loan loss reserves covered 2.89% as of Dec. 31.

The bank also has plenty of excess capital, with a tangible common equity ratio of 23.56%.

Gailey rates HomeTrust "outperform," estimating the company will earn 56 cents a share this year and also in 2014.

"We continue to recommend the shares as we believe stock will trend towards tangible book value per share (~$17.50, our price target) over time," the analyst said in a report on Jan. 29, "as the company will be an aggressive repurchaser of its stock once it hits its one-year mark post conversion (July 2013)."

Gailey also said that "a sale at the three-year mark is a possibility and the company would be sought after by many given its attractive footprint in North Carolina."

Interested in more on HomeTrust Bancshares? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

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